A married man has been jailed after defrauding £57,000 from a charity he set up to help the families of disabled and seriously ill children.
Scott Wright, 45, previously admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position while being a trustee of the Darren Wright Foundation between May 2012 and October 2018.
Bristol Crown Court heard that families of children awaiting operations and treatments did not receive money they were owed by the charity.
Over a number of years, Wright withdrew £57,000 from the foundation’s bank account and put it into his personal bank account.
Recorder Richard Shepherd sentenced Wright, from Bristol, to 28 months in prison and described his actions as ‘despicable’.
Scott Wright (above), 45, previously admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position while being a trustee of the Darren Wright Foundation between May 2012 and October 2018
The judge said families of children with significant disabilities had experienced bills not being paid and promises not being kept by the foundation.
‘Mr Wright stole £57,000 from the central pot. That money was intended for families affected by cerebral palsy and other conditions. They did not get it,’ the judge said.
‘This was a particularly mean and distasteful course of events.
‘The actions and dishonesty by Mr Wright have left a trail of financial turmoil and emotional heartache that continues to impact on the families today.’
Wright set up the foundation in the name of his brother, Darren Wright, who has cerebral palsy, to help the families of children with disabilities and serious illnesses access funding.
The judge said there was ‘no doubt’ that the foundation had done good work and helped a number of families who were ‘entirely satisfied’ with their experience.
But he referred to a ‘long list of victims’ who were short-changed and did not receive funds they should have done from the charity.
‘Although the vulnerable victims weren’t deliberately targeted, the very nature of this foundation means that his victims were vulnerable and Mr Wright knew this but continued to commit the fraud regardless,’ the judge said.
He added: ‘They were desperate for treatment for their children. They would take whichever route they could to put their loved children in as very best a position as they possibly could.
‘Emotional and psychological harm has been caused by Mr Wright’s offending.’
Susan Cavender, prosecuting, read details of families who described how they had been assured by Wright that he was an experienced fundraiser and the charity could help them.
Ms Cavender said donations were made to sites such as JustGiving, as well as at fundraising events, to help the children access operations, equipment and treatments.
Bristol Crown Court (above) heard that families of children awaiting operations and treatments did not receive money they were owed by the charity
Families were left ‘chasing’ Wright for payments, invoices were not settled and children ‘missed out on things they would have benefitted from’, she told the court.
The mother of one child told police: ‘I felt hurt and betrayed. I’m so shocked that Scott has preyed on innocent people.’
Peter Binder, representing Wright, described how his client was ‘beside himself with remorse and guilt’ for the families he had let down.
‘He is acutely aware of the trail of destruction he is responsible for in terms of the victims of what he did but equally the impact on him and those close to him has been considerable,’ Mr Binder said.
He added that Wright was described as having a ‘heart of gold’ by a family who did receive financial help from the Darren Wright Foundation.
‘There were no extravagant purchases,’ Mr Binder said. ‘He lived extremely modesty. There were no foreign holidays.
‘There were no high end motor vehicles or other purchases.’
Wright, who has a history of low mood and depressive illness, ‘bit off more than he could chew’ in running the charity and did not have skills in bookkeeping or accountancy, he added.
Mr Binder said there was ‘no suggestion’ Wright had used the money he took from the foundation on extravagant purchases.
‘Both him and his wife have lived extremely modestly over this period of time,’ he told the court.